Are you wanting to see the most beautiful historic architecture, grand galleries, eat authentic Parisian food, and shop until you drop? Paris is the city of love. So get down on one knee (metaphorically of course), with this proposal of Things to do in Paris: Ultimate Travel Guide.
When to visit
Paris is seasonal with four seasons. winter, spring, summer and autumn.
In our experience, the best time to visit Paris would be from April through to September. Although April to June and September to October will see less crowds, but you will see cooler temperature. During the summer months of July and August will be the busiest with the best weather.
During the winter months, of October through to March will see cold weather conditions. Whilst it might be cold, it will be the quietest time to visit.
The Currency used in Paris is the Euro, but also known as the most expensive city in the world.
We would advise purchasing the Euro prior to your intended travel, although you can use debit/credit cards, and cash machines. Please note, you could be charged for the use of your debit/credit card, and cash machines whilst traveling in Paris. Please check with your bank or card provider before you travel.
Things to do in Paris
There are so many tourist attractions in Paris, that we have selected just some of the best.
Cost: Lift to the top 25.90 Euros – £22.74 – $28.42 – stairs and lift to the top 19.20 Euros – £17.30 – $21.62
Opening times: June to August 9am to 12:45am lift – stairs 9am to 12:30am. Rest of the year 9:30am to 11:45pm lift, stairs 9:30am to 6:30pm
Getting there: via RER or Metro – Gare Champ de Mars Tour Eiffle or Bir-Hakeim, Trocadero. Buses – 82,30, 86, 69, 42, 72 before walking a short distance.
The Eiffel tower’s unique lattice design made from wrought iron, towers over Paris from a great height. Named after its engineer Gustave Eiffel, who oversaw the design, and building of the tower. Built between 1887 to 1889 and the most visited paid for structure in the world. When it was first built, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world, standing at 324 metres. That was until the Chrysler building came along. Since the antenna has been added, it is now taller than the Chrysler Building!
To observe the structure at it’s best, walk through Champs de Mars. Not only is it a beautiful park area, but it really highlights the Eiffel Tower. It is also the best place to get that perfect photo, or Instagram photo opportunity.
When the sun sets over Paris, watch the city light up. By admiring the twinkling of the lights, and the light circling at the top.
In our opinion it really isn’t worth paying nearly £25.00 to reach the top of the Eiffel Tower. There are a number of other locations in Paris to get good views of the city.
Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris
Cost: 10.00 Euros – £8.91 – $10.95 – per person
Opening times: Monday – Friday 7:45am –6:45pm, Saturday and Sunday 7:45am – 7:15pm
Getting there: Metro and RER – Cite, Bus – 75,
This magnificent gothic cathedral, was built in the 13th century with gargoyles that look down on tourists as they come to see this famous landmark. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Paris seeing millions of tourists annually. What made it famous was Victor Hugo’s novel the Hunch Back of Notre Dame. The novel has since been adapted to a Disney children’s movie.
One could not imagine the vast size of Notre Dame, just by admiring it from the exterior. This grand catholic cathedral can hold up to 6000 worshippers at one time. It’s meaning is Old Lady of Paris, but many refer to the cathedral simply as Notre Dame.
We really enjoyed admiring the intricate detail on the stained-glass windows, each window seemed to tell us a different story. It is possible to climb the towers, on the north side. At the top you will come face to face with these scary looking gargoyles.
Tips: There are long queues to get into the cathedral, and photography is not permitted inside.
Musee du Louvre
Cost: 15 Euros – £13.36 – $16.43
Opening times: Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 9am-6pm, Wednesday and Friday 9am – 9:45pm
Getting there: Metro and RER – Pont Neuf, Louvre – Rivoli, Palais Royal Musee du Louvre, Tuileries. Bus – 72, N11, N24, 69, 39, 68, 95, 27, 21, 67, 74, 85, N15, N16, 58, 70
This has to be our favourite place in Paris! Not just because of the beautiful artwork inside the museum, but because of its intricate design on the exterior. It is really difficult to comprehend that something so large is contained in this area. Much of the museum is contained within the walls of the once castle and then palace.
The Louvre, as it is more commonly known is the largest art gallery in the world. Many famous art works hung for tourists to admire. One that most tourist come to see, is the Mona Lisa. Located in the middle of a medium size room. But one that is packed with tourists vying to get a picture of the famous painting.
Built in the 12th to 13th century, this large complex was once the Louvre Castle. It later became a palace for residing French kings. In about 1682, Louis XIV moved to the palace in Versailles leaving the museum to display the royal collection. After the French Revolution, the Louvre Museum started to display national masterpieces.
Arc de Triomphe
Cost: 12.00 Euros – £10.69 – $13.14 per person
Opening times: April to September 10am –11pm, October to March 10am-10:30pm
Getting there: Metro and RER – George V, Bus – 1, 2, 30, 31, N53, N153, 73, N11, N24, 92, 22,
The Arc de Triomphe has a lovely design, with so much detail chiselled into the limestone rock. Built to commemorate those who fought and died during the French Revolution and Napoleonic war. There is a vault beneath that lies the tomb of an unknown soldier from World War I.
You can get good views of Paris from the viewing platform, just above the arch.
Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
Opening times: 24/7
Getting there: Metro and RER – Palais Royal Musee du Louvre, Tuileries. Bus – 72, N11, N24, 69, N11, N24, 21, 27, 39, 68, 95,
This can easily be mistaken for the Arc de Triomphe. However, the biggest difference is the size, being that of a much smaller structure. Whilst it may be smaller, and built in the same period of the Arc de Triomphe it is still packed with beauty.
It is worth walking beneath the main arch to admire the fabulous designs.
Av des Champs Elysees
Opening times: 24/7
Getting there: Metro and RER – Franklin D. Roosevelt, George V. Bus – 42, 80, 28, N02, 73, N11, N24,
Big branded names, cafes, and theatres line the 1.2-mile Av de Champs Elysees, but how different it was before it was laid out. The area prior to 1667, were mostly fields and kitchen gardens, it was then transferred into an extended garden from Tuileries Gardens, which forms part of the Tuileries Palace. After 1828 footpaths, fountains and gas lighting was added, and then further additions were made in 1834 with more restaurants, cafes, theatres, and several fountains which only 3 remain today.
Even if you don’t have money to spend in the branded shops, it is still exceptional, to walk down the Champs Elysees just for window shopping, or admiring the surrounding gardens.
Flame of Liberty
Opening times: 24/7
Getting there: Metro and RER – Alma-Marceau. Bus – 72, 63, 92,
The unofficial memorial for Diana Princess of Wales, as this was the spot where she died in the fatal car crash in the tunnel, a small memorial plaque, a picture and inscribing on the wall beyond is what is left in her memory.
What the Flame of Liberty actually represents, is the unity between France and the USA, in this replica of the flame from the Statue of Liberty in New York.
We love discovering non tourist attractions, it was much quieter, apart from the heavy traffic that passes by, with a nice view of the Eiffel Tower.
Got a few extra days in Paris and not sure what to do? Get out of the city and explore more of France with these wonderful day trips from Paris. Kids will love Disneyland Paris and it’s less than one hour on the train.
- Book your attractions online prior to arriving, this will not only save time, but on some occasions you may save money. Many of the popular tourist attractions, may have queues, so booking online could help jump queues.
- Pack wet weather gear. In the event it rains, wearing the wet weather gear will keep you warm and dry.
- Photography is not permitted at Cathedral Notre Dame.
- You can locate two queues at the Louvre Museum, one is outside at the base of the biggest glass pyramid. The second is at the other end of the shopping centre. The shopping centre queue, could be long during wet and cold days.
- The Louvre Museum is large consisting of many floors and rooms. It is very easy to get lost, so obtaining a map of the museum will help you to navigate.
- To experience the best photography at the Eiffel Tower, you must experience it during the day and in the evening. As the sun draws in, the sparkling lights, illuminate the Eiffel Tower.
If you are looking for inspiration on other adventures you could have in France, then why not consider hiking in Mont Blanc. You can plan your trip with this complete guide on The Tour du Mont Blanc Hike.
Where to stay
Where you stay is important, there are a few factors you need to take into account before booking that place, these are:
- Price – This always has to be within our budget
- Location – how easy will it be to get around Paris
- Transport links – where are the transport links to get us to and from the airport, and to different locations within or outside of the town.
- Reviews – what are the reviews from other travelers who have stayed here
Here are just some of the places to stay in Paris with a budget in mind, but also taking into account the above factors.
Hotel Ibis Gard de Nord chateau landon, 10eme, france
In our opinion this hotel ticks all the above boxes during our stay in Paris. The price was reasonable, including the Eurostar ticket. The location is perfect. The hotel is about 5 minutes’ walk from Gard de Nord Station, which is the international station for the Eurostar, and with the Metro Louis Blanc only minutes away, making it quick and easy to get to the top tourist attractions in Paris.
In our opinion the hotel is quite small, and the rooms are compact, but the hotel was clean, tidy and would easily stay here again if we happened to return to Paris.
The hostel is in a good location, with good connections to and from Gard Du Nord Eurostar station. If you are travelling from the airport, there are some required changes on the metro and bus to get to Les Piaules. The closest metro stations are Couronnes or Belleville, giving great links to the top tourist attractions, or connecting lines.
Hostels are normally budget friendly, and this is no exception, with bed in dorm rooms. Staying in a dorm room, are a great way to meet other travelers, and keeping budget to a minimum.
The reviews are great, people who have stayed here all say that the beds are comfortable, clean, and the public areas are lovely with good food and drink, and great views from the rooftop.
This hotel is located in a good area, with easy connections between Gard Du Nord Eurostar station. If you are flying into the airport, then navigating from the airport to the hotel, will require some changes on the metro and bus. The closest metro station is Parmentier, which gives good links to the top tourist attractions or connecting metro lines.
This is a budget friendly hotel, with prices being very reasonable. All the reviews are outstanding, complimenting the hotel on the comfort during travelers’ stays, the staff are friendly, clean, good size bedrooms, with a good selection at breakfast. Many have said they would happily stay if returning to Paris.
This may sound like an unusual name for a place to stay, and will this be a joke to stay here. Well checking the reviews, it is quite the opposite. Many have said this is one of the best hotels to stay in, with good staff, good rooms, clean, tidy, and good location.
It is a little bit more expensive to stay here, but then sometimes you have to pay a little bit more, for a good service and a good hotel.
Joke Hotel is very close to Gard Du Nord Eurostar station, but a little more challenging coming from the airport, with having to change a number of times on the metro to get to the hotel. To get to the main sightseeing, will require changing onto a few metro lines, but the metro is quick and easy to navigate. The closest metro station is Blanche which has good links to the top tourist attractions or connecting metro lines.
Where to eat
Food is so important when it comes to travelling, Paris can be expensive depending on where you eat. Here are some of the recommendations, as we explored Paris:
These small delicious sweet dishes are cheap and can be found all around Paris. We found a really good crape vendor just outside Palais Royal Musee du Louvre metro station. The gentleman was very friendly, and made the crape right in front of us, and with different flavours available it was a difficult choice.
Located inside the Louvre Museum, is this little café, serves a small selection of hot and cold dishes. If the weather is lovely, sit out on the balcony to admire the view of the pyramids of the Louvre and people going about their business below.
The food is good, and budget friendly.
A French restaurant, offering traditional French dishes, what better way than to eat as the French do. Our meal was very nice, well presented, very filling, and reasonably priced. We would definitely say that the food is well worth its money, with the good portion sizes.
How to get there
Getting to Paris is very easy, and very simple to navigate, there’s plenty of public transport.
We have detailed above how to navigate to the top sights in Paris, but here are some other methods of transport:
There are three airports in Paris, Aeroport de Charles de Gaulle, Aeroport de Beauvais and Aeroport d’Orly.
Most international airlines fly to Aeroport de Charles de Gaulle, whilst the least commonly used will be Aeroport d’Orly and Aeroport de Beauvais.
There are frequent buses connecting major European countries with Paris, from Gare Routiere Internationale de Paris-Gallieni.
There are frequent bus services in and around Paris and detailed above.
The Eurostar connects London with Paris Gare du Nord, and one we have used a number of occasions when visiting Paris. Other connections from Gare du Nord run to Belgium, Germany, and northern France.
If you are arriving from within Europe, there are a further five stations connecting Paris with Europe, these are, Gare de l’Est, Gare de Lyon, Gare d’Austerlitz, Gare Montparnasse, and Gare St-Lazare
Metro and RER
We found this to be the easiest and quickest method to get around Paris, and can compare it similarly to the London Underground (Tube), or the Subway in New York. The Metro system is connected well with other metro and RER lines, making it simple to navigate.
There are 14 metro lines, and 5 RER lines. The cheapest ticket in our opinion would be a Mobilis, which allows travel for one day depending on the zones and costs as little as 7.50 Euros per person – £6.73 – $8.18. As single trip will cost 1.90 Euros per person – £1.70 – $2.07.
We want to pass on all our tips as we find them on our travels, here are some tips to make sure you have a quick and hassle-free holiday to Paris:
- Watch out for pickpockets – we luckily didn’t encounter pickpockets, but have heard they are known to operate on the Metro and in tourist areas. Try not to put valuable items inside your bag. We would recommend a bum bag or money belt to store your passport, bank cards and money. Anti-theft bags are great to help prevent your belongings being stolen.
- Book tours, exhibitions or sightseeing attractions online where possible – many online bookings for sightseeing can be found cheaper online, and in some places skip the queues.
Not everyone, including us are made of money and can’t afford to go on expensive holidays. Having said this, we are still able to travel a lot, and abroad for two simple reasons. One we save hard to enjoy our travels, but two we budget. On every trip we make, we always budget, we set a daily budget that we can spend, and calculate what we expect to pay on sightseeing, food, accommodation and transport. If we didn’t do this, we would spend all our money on just the one trip.
It is for this reason that budgeting is so important for any trip.
We want to help you, travel more, but on a budget. By following these simple tips, you will not only have an amazing experience, but will be able to travel more.
- Plan and research your trip in advance – Paris can be quite an expensive city to travel in. If you research and plan, you will find that you won’t spend that much money.
- Book your attractions online – not only will booking your attractions online in advance save time, in most cases you can save money too.
- On the first Sunday of each month, national museums are free of charge, there are some exception such as Arc de Triomphe, Musee du Louvre, and Tour de Notre Dame on the first Sunday of each month from November to March. Utilise the free entry on these certain days if possible, you will be saving a lot of money on the trip.
- Walk as much as possible – We will walk everywhere and will try to avoid public transport. Not only because it is the cheapest way to explore a city, but you could miss out on the local area, if traveling via public transport.
To give you an idea of what you could be looking at for your trip to Paris, check out the table below:
To really get into the festive spirit, how about visiting Paris for Christmas. We visited the first weekend of December, and loved the Christmas decorations, and the Christmas Markets. The largest Christmas Market in Paris is La Magie de Noel at Tuileries Garden, located in the Tuileries Garden, and only a few minutes’ walk from the Louvre Museum. Some Christmas Markets are open from the Middle of November till the beginning of January, with Ice skating rinks, fun fair rides, vin chaud (French mulled wine), delicious food and more.
Sadly we didn’t get to see more of Paris due to our time constraints, but these are the top 11 discounted museums and attractions we will book on our next visit to Paris.
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